Portugal's Santos and Ronaldo criticise St Petersburg pitch

Portugal's Santos and Ronaldo criticise St Petersburg pitch

Portugal's Santos and Ronaldo criticise St Petersburg pitch

Cristiano Ronaldo swept home a penalty to set Portugal on the way to a typically efficient 4-0 win over New Zealand on Saturday which guaranteed their place in the Confederations Cup semi-finals.

Russian Federation were beaten 2-1 by Mexico in Kazan on Saturday meaning they finished third in Group A having also lost to Portugal in Moscow on Wednesday, their only victory coming on the opening day versus minnows New Zealand, ranked 95th in the world.

Zhirkov had almost opened the scoring for Russian Federation just a few minutes before the play that was reviewed, but his low left-foot shot went just wide.

Portuguese team manager, Fernando Santos says: "I warned my players not let them win balls in the air, and the team reacted very well".

However, defender Pepe will miss Portugal's semi-final after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament.

Portugal's goal shower started in the 33 minutes, when Christiano Ronaldo scored a penalty and Pen Bernaldo added a goal four minutes later, which made the first half to end 2-0.

"We knew we were going to have a really tough game against a very strong side in the host nation, who simply had to go for the win", said Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio. "We are building a team that is showing that it can play against any opponent in any situation".

However, the All Whites keeper could do little when Andre Silva, who cost AC Milan some £33m from Porto, darted into the right of the penalty area before crashing the ball into the top corner.

"We achieved a result, a good victory and a place in the semi-final, which was our main goal". You have to try to reach the goal and prevent them from scoring.

Mexico defender Nestor Araujo equalised in the 30th minute with a looping header.

Santos said afterward that New Zealand's performance against Mexico, when they narrowly lost 2-1, put him on alert about the problems they could pose - which probably explains why Ronaldo, who was withdrawn midway through the second half, and Portugal's other big guns were picked from the start.

He had found the net in every game with Portugal this season until being deprived in the Confederations Cup opener against Mexico last week, when he was still decisive by setting up Ricardo Quaresma's opening goal.

Some talented youngsters have also been important for Portugal recently, giving hope that the team can continue to succeed even after the most experienced players begin being replaced in the not-so-distant future.

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